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94th Tour de France - ProT

France, July 7-29, 2007

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Stage 10 - Wednesday, July 18: Tallard - Marseille, 229.5km

Live commentary by Shane Stokes and Bjorn Haake

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 13:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST

Welcome back to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the 94th Tour de France. As Thor Hushovd said yesterday with a sigh of relief: Au revoir, Alpes. We are heading down to the Mediterranean today. 229.5 long kilometres from Tallard to Marseille, the port city in Southern France. The sprinters have acknowledged that it is unlikely to be a sprint finish, as a small group is expected to get away.

13:06 CEST    40.5km/189km to go
The peloton is currently all together, after a break of six was reeled in moments ago.

13:07 CEST   
But the truce doesn't last long as German champion Fabian Wegmann launches an attack!

13:11 CEST   
We are currently 42 kilometres into the race. The first hour of racing was marked by several attacks and eventually the following riders went clear: Simon Gerrans (Ag2r Prévoyance), Philippe Gilbert (Française Des Jeux), Andriy Grivko (Milram), Anthony Charteau (Crédit Agricole), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) and Claudio Corioni (Lampre-Fondital). But they got brought after about 37 kilometres of racing.

13:15 CEST    48.5km/181km to go
The race today leaves the region of the Hautes-Alpes and is heading straight down to the Provence. It doesn't have the high mountains, but is a rather rolling parcours with several cat 3 and 4 climbs in it. The first categorized climbs is coming up in around ten kilometres.

13:18 CEST   
And more doping news for the day. Patrik Sinkewitz, who collided with a spectator a couple of days ago, tested positive. The T-Mobile rider's A probe was tested positive for Testosterone and the German has been suspended from T-Mobile immediately.

13:21 CEST   
Sinkewitz and teammates were shocked and the injured rider claimed he didn't dope. Sounds familiar. The test was taken before the Tour. It remains to be seen if German television channels will come through with their promise to stop broadcasting the Tour if another doping case surfaces. We will inform you in about an hour on this.

Patrik Sinkewitz (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

13:23 CEST    54.5km/175km to go
In the mean time Wegmann has been caught by the peloton, which is currently riding along all together. The first mountain is coming up.

13:31 CEST   
We just received the news that the German public channels ARD and ZDF have indeed decided to pull the plug until the doping case of Sinkewitz is further investigated. The channels have said they hope that their action will send a strong signal to all of those involved in cycling.

13:34 CEST    58.5km/171km to go
The field, oblivious to the TV problems, is over the climb in the following order: Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Xavier Florencio (Bouygues Telecom) and Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel)

13:36 CEST   
So Burghardt, who crashed into a dog yesterday, decided to be aggressive and put a positive image on the team, although this may not be the best of words to describe. They made enough positive headlines today with Sinkewitz. And yes, Burghardt and dog are OK

Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

13:41 CEST    68.5km/161km to go
Marcus Burghardt is on the attack and currently has 25 seconds on the field.

13:44 CEST   
Burghardt, who just passed the town of Les Mees, is now a minute clear as the field lest him go ahead. It is still 15 kilometres to the first intermediate sprint of the day and Tom Boonen (Quickstep) will hope there are others taking off before then and take away the points. It would mean he doesn't have to sprint against green jersey Erik Zabel and keep his slim lead for now.

13:48 CEST   
As the riders in the field are relaxing and possibly talking about the newest doping case, Burghardt extends his lead to 1'40" without trouble. Being a sole rider in the front he certainly will not have a chance to survive. Unless the discussions in the peloton distract them enough so they don't pay attention where they are.

13:52 CEST   
Today's finish town of Marseille has about 1.5 millions inhabitants and their soccer stadium is fittingly enough called the Stade Vélodrome (cycling stadium). But it's most famously used by Olympique Marseille in their League 1 home games.

13:54 CEST   
Marseille also has an old port, which played a major role before the seventies to connect to Africa, but has since seen a decline. It is currently trying to be resurrected with funds of the EU.

14:02 CEST   
A couple of kilometres ago, a ten-man group of riders set off in pursuit of the leader. They are Jens Voigt (CSC), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Paolo Bossoni (Lampre), Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Michael Albasini and Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liqugas), Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux), Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step - Innergetic) and Andriy Grivko (Milram)

14:03 CEST   
Those chasers caught him at km 80, so there are 11 in front.

14:07 CEST   
Brothers Sylvain and Sébastien Chavanel were interviewed on French television. They ride for the Cofidis and Française des Jeux teams. The two were asked if they see each other during the stage; Sylvain answered that it’s a bit difficult in the mountains (he is much better climber than his sprinter brother) and the only time he sees him is on television, when he comes home with the gruppetto.

Both agreed that today is a day which suits Sylvain better. Sébastien said he would give it a go tomorrow.

14:12 CEST   
The order of the riders over the sprint line in Oraisin (km 82.5) was Cédric Vasseur (Quickstep-Innergetic), Andriy Grivko (Milram) and Paolo Bossoni (Lampre-Fondital). The break had a lead of 4'20 at that point.

14:16 CEST   
The 11 man break will shortly hit the fourth category Villedieu climb. They are likely to stay together as after the top there is still 136.5 kilometres remaining from there until the finish. The only likely reason why someone might wish to break up the move is if the cooperation was not good between the 11.

If this was the case, reducing it to a smaller group might help this. But it also exposes the riders to more regular turns at the front, and therefore imposes a bigger demand.

14:23 CEST   
The news if Patrik Sinkewitz' positive A sample is leading to a lot of debate on German TV. Unfortunately it seems that this may have brought their coverage of this year's Tour to an end.

If the B sample does indeed confirm the result, it is a big blow for a team which has made large efforts to push for a cleaner sport this season. It's too soon to talk about Sinkewitz' guilt - the B test is needed to confirm this - but if it turns out that he did indeed take testosterone, it is an act which unfortunately overshadows the other riders on the team who seem to be making an effort to pull together for a new sport.

Under the T-Mobile code of conduct, anyone who tests positive has to repay any salary they have received up until that point. Factor in the Commitment for a New Cycling which was signed by each rider in this year's Tour, where a year's salary is taken away, and it is clear that there could be a very expensive consequences.

14:24 CEST   
The eleven man break continues to work together, trying to extend the lead.

14:31 CEST   
It's waaaarm out there today...well, hot, actually. Temperatures of 36 or 37 degrees are expected at the finish.

14:32 CEST   
The leaders are now 7'23 clear! That's a healthy gap..

14:34 CEST    105.5km/124km to go
The gap continues to grow: it is 7'57

14:36 CEST   
Due to the points classification, there may be a situation whereby the Quick Step - Innergetic team of Tom Boonen would prefer that this move stays clear, even if it means their sprinter can't go for a stage win. He's got a small lead over Erik Zabel (Milram) and thus if 11 riders hit the line ahead of them, it gives him a bigger buffer. However, if he is confident in his finishing speed versus that of Zabel, he may well direct his team to drag back the move in the hope of a bunch sprint win.

14:45 CEST   
Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) is sitting towards the back of the peloton. He'll be happy that the pace is more sedate today, but will undoubtedly still be very disappointed as regards to how yesterday went for him. He suffered on the Galibier and eventually finished 3'24 behind the stage winner, Colombian Barloworld rider Mauricio Soler.

Vinokourov is now 21st overall, a very distant 8'05 behind Rasmussen. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) is second in the general classification, 5'30 ahead of Vino. Of course, the Astana rider should take time out of both in the two time trials, but there are other strong TT riders such as Cadel Evans (Predictor Lotto) and Andreas Klöden (Astana) who may not give up time to him. He really has a very difficult battle ahead if he wants to get close to yellow.

14:47 CEST    116km/113.5km to go
The gap is now over ten minutes; 10'04, to be exact. The break is in double file and appears to be working well.

14:48 CEST    117.5km/112km to go
The leaders are in Cadarache. The feedzone begins here. Mmmm, donuts. (Well, perhaps not).

15:01 CEST    105.5km/124km to go
The eleven leaders are still working well together, further building their lead over the Rabobank-led peloton. They are now 11'09 clear and the gap continues to grow..

Current situation

  • Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Jens Voigt (CSC), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Paolo Bossoni (Lampre), Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Michael Albasini and Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liqugas), Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux), Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step - Innergetic) and Andriy Grivko (Milram)
  • Peloton at 11.09

15:02 CEST   
The peloton are currently racing past a river; that might help to cool things down slightly. It's very hot out there today.

15:06 CEST   
Jens Voigt is of course well used to these kinds of attacks; he went clear on last year's 14th stage to Montélimar and he and his companions opened up a 29'57 lead over the peloton. Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) finished second that day and took over the Tour de France lead from Floyd Landis (Phonak).

15:09 CEST    129.5km/100km to go
With 100 kilometres left, the gap is 11'02. Rabobank are on the front with Michael Rasmussen sitting perhaps tenth in line. Tom Boonen is also right up there near the head of the field - not sure why this is. He's about sixth in line.

15:14 CEST   
The terrain today is much flatter, although there are a few climbs along the way. It's a perfect breakaway situation, though; the GC contenders will be glad of a rest, while there are enough riders up there to ensure that only a few teams have an interest in chasing.

15:16 CEST    133.9km/95.6km to go
Rabobank are chasing behind but Flecha continues to ride. The team are probably happy enough for this move to stay clear; they just don't want things to get out of hand. Riding at a decent-enough pace behind also serves to deter other attacks.

The gap is down slightly to 10'50.

15:18 CEST   
Markus Burghardt (T-Mobile) is one of those in the break. He's possibly taking out his frustrations on the pedals, knowing that the news about Sinkewitz is a big strain on the team.

The Liquigas riders have an advantage - two in the big move. Michael Albasini and Aleksandr Kuschynski will work together in the closing stages, trying to use their numerical advantage to help get a stage win.

Current situation

  • Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Jens Voigt (CSC), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Paolo Bossoni (Lampre), Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Michael Albasini and Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liqugas), Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux), Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step - Innergetic) and Andriy Grivko (Milram)
  • Peloton at 10.57

15:29 CEST   
Ralf Grabsch described today's stage as good for a group going and "ideally Jens Voigt would be in it, as he is a specialist." But of course Grabsch wanted to be in the break as well and didn't make it. He may now be sitting in the peloton and kicking his butt. But at least with Grivko, Milram has one rider in the break.

15:32 CEST   
More on today's big news. T-Mobile general manager Bob Stapleton has given a reaction to the Sinkewitz A-sample positive. Quoted on the T-Mobile team website, he said that:

“This development is very disappointing. If the analysis of the B-sample returns the same result as the A-Sample then Patrik Sinkewitz will be immediately released from the team and he will be punished severely. Our Team Code of Conduct excludes cheating in any form.

"It’s a big shock to us, but we always knew the challenge facing us in the fight against doping. However, this result also shows the effectiveness of the NADA testing system, as well as emphasizing the importance of out-of-competition testing. It doesn’t change our ethical stance and our commitment to clean and fair sport."

T-Mobile has tough internal blood manipulation controls, including a unique examination to detect transfusions, while examinations for testosterone use and other types of doping are carried out by national doping agencies.

The team contributes a substantial sum [believed to be in hundreds of thousands of euro] to the German NADA and this facilitates the regular testing of its riders by them. It would appear that this was the test which led to the adverse finding for Sinkewitz.

"The team and the sponsor fully support NADA's work; we provide financial support to NADA and we strongly back the imposition of heavy sanctions for doping violations,” continued Stapleton.

Meanwhile the director of sporting communications at Deutsche Telekom AG, Christian Frommert, said that the sponsorship would be evaluated in time. "After the Tour de France everybody involved will sit down to discuss the way forward in a calm and considered way."

15:34 CEST    144.5km/85km to go
The gap is 10'02, as Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) gets more treatment from the race doctor. She is examining at his shoulder and now rolling a supporting bandage up his leg to hold on the large plaster on his left knee.

Chris Horner (Predictor-Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

15:35 CEST   
The scenery is really beautiful here...there is a lot of vegetation.

15:39 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown caught up with Predictor's Chris Horner (USA) before the start and asked him if he'd be in a break today, to which Horner replied frankly "I hope not." Ah, can't blame him with the temperatures hovering around 36 to 37 degrees. Better suited for a jump into the ocean. Which Horner of course could reach earlier, if he were in the (successful) break...

15:40 CEST   
Aleksandr Kuschynski goes back to the Liqugas team car and gets something to put down the back of his jersey. Looks like he's trying to cool himself, whatever it was. It really is hot out there today.

15:42 CEST   
Vinokourov went to the race doctor Caterine Guyot (not Gerard Porte) and she just spoke to French TV. She said that he had his bandages redone as it is so hot out there and he was uncomfortable with. She said that his injuries are getting a bit better.

15:46 CEST    153.5km/76km to go
Flecha rolls through to the front and is followed by Casar. The Spaniard is a dangerous rider as he has a great attacking style; the others in the break will have to keep tabs on him. Voigt is also another to be feared.

The gap remains just slightly above ten minutes. The break is about to hit the second sprint of the day, at Saint Maxim la Sainte Baume.

15:48 CEST   
The break pass the prime line. They didn't sprint; Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Jens Voigt (CSC) and Paolo Bossoni (Lampre) are the first three past the banner.

15:54 CEST   
The peloton is now hitting Ollieres, one of the many small communities situated in the rolling-hills area with its forests on both sides of the road. They will now enter a flat stretch as the enter the department of the Bouches du Rhone.

15:55 CEST   
Voigt and Flecha have both taken Tour stages in the past; Voigt took the aforementioned victory in Montélimar and also won in Sarran in 2001. Vasseur won in La Charte some ten years ago, also taking the yellow jersey, while Halgand triumphed in Pau in 2002 and Flecha in Toulouse one year later.

Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis)
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
(Click for larger image)

15:57 CEST   
Today's finish in Marseille is taking place in France's second-biggest city. It attracts 400,000 sailing visitors a year, and will be Europe's capital of culture in 2013.

15:58 CEST   

Back in Dunkerque Cédric Vasseur pointed out to Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé that he was only focused on helping sprinter Tom Boonen in the first week. Yesterday Boonen explained that the team wouldn't ride so they could avoid a sprint. This morning we asked Vasseur if he was allowed to attack. "Yeah, from now on I can have a go and I will certainly try it, attacking in the Tour!" Vasseur clearly looked forward to show himself today.

16:00 CEST   
Bernhard Eisel confirmed to Gregor Brown that "Today there is not a chance for a sprint, it is a breakaway day because it is too long and too hot." In the Giro the riders frequently take a timeout to have some gelato on the hot days, but of course the French ice-cream isn't nearly as good as its Italian counter part.

American Fred Rodriguez (Predictor-Lotto)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

16:20 CEST    176.5km/53km to go
Rabobank continue to lead the peloton, which is stretched into one long line. The speed looks to be on; we'll see the effect on the time gaps to confirm if this is the case.

For now, the gap is 10'47 and so this move looks highly likely to stay clear. The rough rule is that the peloton will need ten kilometres to take back each minute, so they appear to have left it too late today.

The race is winding its way through forestland near St Maximin le Ste Baume; beautiful countryside.

16:24 CEST   
With 28 km to go the riders will hit the climb of Les Bastides. It's a third cat hill, and so too the Gineste Pass which tops out 18 kilometres later. This latter peak comes just 10 km from the end (see, we know our maths!) and would be a perfect springboard for one of the break to go a-huntin' for the win.

16:24 CEST   
Many riders don't enjoy the extreme heat during a bike race, with the heat getting stuck under the helmet and sweat dripping all over the place, but Colombian-born "Fast Freddie Rodriguez", the American on the Predictor-Lotto team told Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown before the start that "I enjoy this heat. Today a lot of guys are going to be trying to go into breakaways but that is not our objective." He can sit in then and let the field drag him down to the Mediterranean.

16:30 CEST   
The eleven riders are 10'58 clear with 47 km remaining. It's between them. For now their truce continues; they roll through nicely, doing their work. But we expect things to liven up soon.

Rabobank are still on the front. The other GC contenders won't mind at all, as this will make the team less fresh for the coming mountains.

Cancellara goes back for bottles. The former maillot jaune is doing team duties now as he no longer has the yellow jersey on his back.

16:31 CEST   
There is much more flatland in this area of France. It gives a welcome break to the riders after the Alps.

Sandy Casar heads back to his team car for some fluids.

16:36 CEST   
We'd love to be bringing you news of big attacks and other such exciting stuff, but thus far today has been defined by one story: eleven riders are clear and are working well together thus far. Fear not - we suspect things will become more animated a bit closer to the finish.

16:38 CEST   
Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) goes back to his team car. The Ukrainian is wearing red numbers as the race's most aggressive rider.

At the other end of the peloton, Rabobank continue to plug away.

16:42 CEST   
The peloton now passes through Roquevaire, 47 kilometres from the finish.

Vasseur is - it is though - doing his final Tour. He wore yellow ten years ago, losing it finally to Jan Ullrich when the German won at Andorra Arcalis.

16:44 CEST   
Since readers have been asking, let's make sure to understand that T-Mobile is not doing doping controls. They only monitor blood values and can thereby monitor irregularities. T-Mobile and CSC have given money so that more doping controls can be conducted. Here is a short quote of what Stapleton had to say.

16:46 CEST    194.5km/35km to go
The break has maintained a lead of

The Cyclingnews blimp is flying close to the coastline of Cap Canaille near Cassis (18.5 km from the finish). It is stunning here, and the Mediterranean is very blue on this sunny day. Fear not, though - we will hit the turbo and return to the action.

Current situation

  • Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Jens Voigt (CSC), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Paolo Bossoni (Lampre), Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Michael Albasini and Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liqugas), Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux), Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step - Innergetic) and Andriy Grivko (Milram)
  • Peloton at 10.56

16:53 CEST    197.9km/31.6km to go
And it begins! Voigt attacks and ramps the pace right up.

16:54 CEST    198.6km/30.9km to go
Burghardt is right on Voigt's wheel, with the rest behind him. The pace has dropped back now. Voigt looks around to see what is happening.

16:56 CEST   
For now the pace has settled down again, but there is a lot of nervous energy now. They truce has been broken and things will be much more edgy from this point on.

Voigt is stuck on the front. He looks back at Casar, who was on his wheel.

Halgand goes!

16:57 CEST   
Albasini goes with him. They have been joined by Casar so there are three clear.

16:58 CEST   
Three more clip away and go in pursuit. They have less than 1km to the summit.

The break is completely shattered now.

16:58 CEST   
Grivko is gone. Up front, Halgand and Albasini have a few lengths on Casar. He gets back on.

17:00 CEST   
Halgand, Albasini and Casar pass the top together. Next is Voigt, Vasseur, Burghardt and Scheirlinckx, more or less together.

17:01 CEST   
We have gotten a message from Cervelo clarifying: "Just a short note, the CSC anti doping program DOES include doping tests, not just blood value monitoring. They do both. As for the funding, they pay for all the tests, but the tests are performed by a WADA certified Swedish company (they determine who to test, where and when) and then the tests are analysed in UCI and WADA approved labs. The labs send the results directly to the UCI, and later to the team as well. But because it is sent directly to the UCI, the team cannot influence the outcome."

17:02 CEST   
Now there has been a regrouping of sorts up front; Voigt, Casar, Albasini, Vasseur and Halgand are together and driving it hard towards the line. They are working well together, knowing that six riders have (for now at least) been eliminated from the equation.

17:03 CEST    204.5km/25km to go
There are three French riders there, which will keep the fans happy. With 25 km remaining, they are 10'14 clear.

17:10 CEST    209.5km/20km to go
The five continue to drive it. At the summit of the last climb Voigt and the others were 9" behind, so they closed that gap quite quickly.

The chasers now are Burghardt, Scheirlinckx, Flecha, Bossoni, Kuschynski. They are 35 seconds down going under the 20km to go banner. Grivko was dropped on the climb.

17:11 CEST   
The leaders are really moving now. They are on good roads and are speeding towards the finish. The peloton goes over the top of the climb just over 11 minutes back.

Voigt flicks left to take a shorter line around a roundabout. Two others go with him, while the other two have to go the long way around.

Halgand attacks!

17:14 CEST   
Casar is dropped on this climb. Voigt is clawing his way up to the leaders - Halgand and Albasini. Vasseur was sitting on his wheel.

The roads are sloping uphill now - they are on the final climb of the day.

17:15 CEST    213.5km/16km to go
Casar gets back up to the others. Voigt takes the front, looking back all the time. Halgand had jumped a second time but was brought back.

Albasini moves forward again. It's a bit scrappy here, but the attacks have stopped for now. Everyone looks quite nervous.

The peloton is 11'22 back.

17:16 CEST    214.1km/15.4km to go
Voigt is going through a lot. He wants to keep the pace high as he is a big diesel engine. This stop/start racing probably doesn't suit him as much. He flicks his elbow and shouts for the others to come through. Casar obliges.

They have 5km to the summit.

17:18 CEST   
There are more details on the T-Mobile's anti doping program here and here.

17:20 CEST    217km/12.5km to go
This climb of the Gineste Pass is a cat three ascent, but is quite long. The riders are nearing the top now. They are working well again, realising perhaps that the chasers could still get across.

17:20 CEST   
The peloton go under 20km to go. Rabobank still lead...it's been a long day at the front for them.

17:21 CEST   
The leaders are rolling through; Voigt takes the front, then Halgand, then Vasseur. Casar missed a turn. He seems to be under a bit of pressure.

Current situation

  • Jens Voigt (CSC), Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), Michael Albasini (Liqugas), Cedric Vasseur (Quick Step - Innergetic) and Sandy Casar (Française Des Jeux)
  • Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Paolo Bossoni (Lampre), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis) and Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liqugas) at 0.45
  • Andriy Grivko (Milram)
  • Peloton at 11.37

17:23 CEST   
Voigt leads, with Albasini in second place. Vasseur is at the back. They are near the top of the climb now. It's quite a modest gradient.

10 km to go.

17:23 CEST    219.7km/9.8km to go
Casar now comes to the front. He's looking a bit stronger now.

17:25 CEST   
They sprint for the top. Halgand gets it, ahead of Voigt and Albasini. Vasseur and Casar are next. They are on a quick descent now towards the finish, and arc very quickly around a sweeping bend.

17:26 CEST    221km/8.5km to go
They are all rolling through now. It will be very hard to get a significant gap on the descent, unless someone takes more risks than the others. The aggression may come on the flatter roads just before the finish.

17:29 CEST    224.5km/5km to go
Rabobank sit at the front of the peloton. The gap is now 12'14. The five front-runners remain together for now.

17:29 CEST   
Vasseur sits at the back; is he tired, or biding his time?

17:30 CEST    225.2km/4.3km to go
Well, of course he is tired - they all are! But it's all relative. The question is, who is the freshest.

Voigt goes... Halgand brings him back.

17:30 CEST   
They are looking around again...nervous moments. Who will be next?

17:31 CEST   
Vasseur is once again at the back. He's planning a canny game, methinks...

17:31 CEST    226.5km/3km to go
And he goes!

17:31 CEST   
Albasini goes after him and gets up.. Now Halgand goes, with Casar planted firmly on his wheel.

17:32 CEST    227.5km/2km to go
Vasseur goes to the back again. He's showing his experience here.

17:32 CEST   
Voigt leads, but they are rolling and looking around. He turns the pedals over, waiting for the next attack. Vasseur is as cool as a cucumber at the back.

17:33 CEST    228.3km/1.2km to go
He's watching the others. Voigt is still on the front. Not using much energy, but vulnerable to attacks.

17:33 CEST    228.5km/1km to go
They are under the kite...will it be a sprint..?

17:34 CEST   
Three French against one German and one Swiss.

17:34 CEST   
Voigt is on the front, waiting... The speed winds up...

17:34 CEST   
And Vasseur goes!

17:35 CEST   
Vasseur just about holds off Casar...that was close. Casar threw his bike but couldn't get him.

17:36 CEST   
Wow..the photo finish is very very close... This may take a while..

17:37 CEST   
Vasseur may have shaded it, but it is close. Casar was coming back at him all the way to the line..he really chewed up the metres at the end.

Vasseur celebrates, so he's confident he got it. Another couple of metres and for sure it would have been Casar. A French one-two; the fans will be happy.

Quickstep take their third victory of the race.

17:39 CEST   
Vasseur takes his second Tour de France stage win, ten years after the first. Albasini was third, then Halgand and Voigt.

17:40 CEST   
Casar was moving much quicker at the end but Vasseur timed it just right. He was playing a waiting game in the final few kilometres, confident he could do it. Voigt was stuck on the front and was at the mercy of the others.

Caisse d'Epargne now take over at the front of the peloton.

17:41 CEST   
Now Rabobank are back on the front, with Rasmussen's yellow jersey glowing bright in the evening sun.

17:44 CEST   
Quickstep are now driving the page, content to set Boonen up for the minor points. They go under the kite.

17:44 CEST   
Zabel is on Boonen's wheel, waiting.

17:47 CEST   
Hushovd is also there, and goes early. But it looks to be Boonen who gets it, or perhaps Sébastien Chavanel. Zabel was up towards the front but was fourth or fifth of that group, losing a couple more points.

17:47 CEST   
Casar's runner-up place today was the third time he has finished second on a stage of the Tour de France. He really went for it at the end and was unlucky not to win out..he was moving very fast in the final 100 metres.

17:54 CEST   
Michael Rasmussen gets another yellow jersey, a couple of minutes after Vasseur is on the podium for his victory. It will be interesting to see what the photo finish gap was at the end; we suspect it was very small indeed.

ASO President Patrice Clerc noted after the stage, "I heard about the positive control of Patrik Sinkewitz today. A positive control that resulted from a June training camp. I am surprised; I think the riders know that we are determined to fight doping. It is a big risk on the part of the riders to make this kind of joke. ... I heard about German television deciding not to air the Tour de France now. I don't understand why they make decision this against us because we are working hard..." Stay tuned for more coverage in the news

That completes our coverage of today's 10th stage of the Tour de France. Plenty of action has happened so far since London, and it's only the halfway point of the race! So there's plenty left to look forward to. Come back a little later on for complete results and a report. Thanks for reading!

Provisional results

1 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Quickstep-Innergetic
2 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux
3 Michael Albasini (Swi) Liquigas
4 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Crédit Agricole
5 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC
6 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis
7 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
8 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile
9 Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas
10 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank

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